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You may have already heard quite a lot about Sardinia, that foot-shaped island surrounded by the wonderful Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy.  Now find out some very curious and charming facts from Giulia Garau, an Italian travel lover living in Sardinia. 

Sardinia - la Maddalena Archipelago

Sardinia – la Maddalena Archipelago

I love writing about my island and telling people, who have never been to Sardinia, how it is much more than one can read about on a regular travel guide.  is a ‘miniature-continent’ because of the huge variety of landscapes and the richness of customs and ancient traditions.  There is also another ‘miniature’ side of Sardinia: did you know that a distinctive feature of the Sardinian fauna is its smaller size, compared to the same species of the Italian mainland?  The main example is the Giara Pony (Cavallino della Giara), a breed of wild horses native to Sardinia, that live in the plateau of the Giara: their average size is 114cm to135 cm! (45 to53 inches). Another example the white donkey, living on AsinaraIsland, today a national park. Both Giara and Asinara are spots worth visiting because of their uniqueness!

White donkeys - Sardinia

Looking for the secret of Sardinian longevity:  the average height of Sardinian people has always been low, although in the last 60 yrs., new generations have shown the world's highest increase in the average height of a person.  Sardinian people, and particularly the central eastern region, have been subject to studies about longevity, which have established that the world's highest number of 100-year olds lives in the region of Ogliastra. Recently conducted studies in Sardinia seem to show that the longevity is linked to the person's stature: short men live longer! Is this really the case? The legend doesn't agree: it is said that there is a spot of unknown position in Ogliastra, and if you cross it you'll live longer than one hundred years.  Believe it or not, it's worth discovering this wonderful territory, considered the wildest area of Sardinia, and asking people directly what their secret is!

Quirky food: the rotten cheese.  You can also ask them, and they will certainly know it, the origin of the name “Filu ‘e ferru” (piece of iron wire), of the regional firewater. In the past, the Filu ‘e ferru was produced illegally and the containers hidden under the ground: in order to find them again, a piece of iron wire was rammed into the ground. Another local product you need to know about is the Casu Marzu (rotten cheese). It is considered one of the most dangerous cheeses in the world because it contains live insect larvae, but it actually is delicious and tasty, much appreciated not only by Sardinians. But don't ask for it at the local market: it has been outlawed! Sardinia has been isolated for a long time and has preserved both its beauties and its quirkiness. Sometimes they even coincide. 

Su Nuraxi Barumini

But from where all these peculiarities originate? We need to go back in time, maybe to the Nuragic civilization who built the biggest megalithic monuments of Europe, the Nuraghe (there are more then 7,000 spread all over Sardinia, about1 inevery 3 square Km), or we could perhaps investigate the legend of the mythical Atlantis. Yes, Atlantis: according to some scientists, Sardinia corresponds to the description of the legendary island of Atlantisdescribed by the Greek philosopher Plato. This theory is much disputed, although some researchers are convinced of it. What's your opinion? You need to investigate in person …

Giulia GarauGuest blogger Giulia Garau works in tourism and runs the blog CharmingItaly.com, where she can combine her passion for tourism with her love for writing. Check out her Free Travel Guides about Italy